Dominic Thiem isn’t planning on donating to the Novak Djokovic-led relief effort to help lower-ranked players.
Thiem says the struggle to rise from tennis’ lower ranks is part of the process all pros face and he doesn’t support the plan, initiated by Djokovic and supported by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, to give money to lower-ranked players trying to survive the sport’s shutdown during this coronavirus crisis.
“I know the Futures Tour and played there for two years. There are a lot of people who don’t give everything to sport,” Thiem told Krone.at sports editor Michael Fall in an interview. “I don’t see why I should give money to such people. I would prefer to donate to people or institutions that really need it.”
The ATP and WTA jointly announced continued suspension of the pro circuit until at least July 13th due to the coronavirus outbreak, though that day may well be extended.
The three-time Grand Slam finalist says none of today’s top players received charity in their rise up the rankings and points out there are no guarantees in tennis unlike some team sports.
“None of us top people got it as a gift. We had to fight our way up,” Thiem told Krone.at. “I’m not guaranteed in any profession to make a lot of money at some point.
“No tennis players are fighting for survival, not even the ones down below. Nobody has to starve.”
Earlier this month, ATP player council president Djokovic said he’s in discussions with Federer and Nadal about donating to a relief fund for lower-ranked players.
“I spoke to Roger and Rafa a few days ago and we had a conversation about the near future of tennis,” Djokovic said. “How we can contribute to help lower ranked guys who are obviously struggling the most. A majority of players ranked between 250 to 700 or 1,000 don’t have federation support or sponsors and are independent and left alone.
“Players hopefully will contribute collectively to the relief fund that the ATP will distribute using models and criteria. … hopefully between $3-4.5 million will be distributed to lower-ranked players.”
Last week, the ITF issued a statement supporting a player relief program with contributions from the sport’s stakeholders during this pandemic.
“With so much uncertainty around when it will be safe to restart the professional tennis tours, the international governing bodies of world tennis can confirm they are in discussions to create a Player Relief Program to provide much-needed assistance to the players who are particularly affected during this time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis,” the ITF announced. “These discussions have been progressing well and details are being finalized with an announcement expected in the near future.
“Already agreed is that the ATP and the WTA will administer the Player Relief Program and all seven stakeholders will make a significant contribution.”
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve